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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  November 23, 2009 12:00pm-12:35pm EST

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[captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- tavis: good evening from los angeles. tonight, a conversationsupersta. he has sold more than 30 million albums today. he is one of the most successful brands and all of entertainment. he is out this week with a new cd and dvd called "before i self-destruct." we are glad that you join us with 50 cent coming on now. >> there are so many things that walmart is looking forward to doing, like helping people live better. we are looking forward to
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building strong communities and relationships. >> nationwide insurance pro udly supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment comes with it. >> nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> i am pleased to welcome 50 cent to this program, a grammy- nominated artist and entertainment mogul. he has a new cd out. you can also pick up a copy of his book, "the 50th lot."
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-- 50 s -- 50th law." >> ♪ [rap music playing] tavis: he leans in to me while the video is playing and he says, and they picked the good part. it was not easy. how are you doing? it is a pleasure to have you on the program. let's start with this program -- split star with the song.
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now you are advertising that you could be a millionaire. >> you go in the studio with these things in mind and write the things that match. at the things that people would be interested in. tavis: there are a lot of people that would make the argument, i would be curious if you would agree, there is a great debate in our society where rap music is concerned and that is that kids take their cues from what you all tell them. when you say it make a baby by me and be a millionaire, do you think that people take their guide, their lead from what you say? >> entertainment in general, i think visuals would be more influential. the emphasis placed on music as a form of mount -- of art are
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not placed on film. every a song is about 2:50 to 3:00. you cannot create descriptions. it you cannot have an explanation for a personal regression. me personally, i chose to write the harsh reality. i had to experience these things early on. i found it interesting writing it. i felt it developed a significance between me and the other artists that have worked hard enough to be considered some of the best hip-hop artists. it is my personal take on things. some will say the lyrics are misogynist act or the hip-hop culture is anti-gay. that is not true.
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when r&b music and jazz music and classical music have artists that are developing the best possible presentation, they are being competitive over the no. 1 spot. >> since you went there, i ask about the conference -- competition you reference earlier, the competition, yes. is it the competition to be the best or is it a race to the bottom? >> for some artists, it is a race to the bottom. it damages your perception to the public. they hurt themselves. they never allowed themselves to go to the point where they are the best hip-hop artists. >> when you say you choose to write about the harsh realities, i get the sense that this
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project is a return to harsher their merkel content. why? >> i had a negative -- lyrical content. >> white? >> i had a negative response to when i try to read differently. the first song that i started with have laughter in it. justin timber like and i elaborated to write a song that was representative of the fact of love and the human interest. we created that piece of the actual project. one we had the personal interest and those moments. they did not respond well to it. it translated the strongest
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within what they were trying. i developed this concept and i decided to go with curtis first. every time i made it a response to go to the positive -- i created all of this dark material before i had a major company doing the movement. when the opportunity came, it was on "go shorty, it is your birthday." that is the biggest record i have released today. when i evaluated why they responded to me in a different way, that is what translated the most. how does it feel to be successful or to be acknowledged as a credible artist? >> i have got that.
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nine times. we are not going to talk about that. you are onto something. it is philosophical and sociological. i want to talk about that. when you try to move in a different direction, you did not want to go there. >> my core fans, those that empress the aggressive material, they influence -- embraced the aggressive material, and they influenced it. their perception of me -- success is changing the perception of a 50 cent. how could he be the guy from the record and be smart enough to be part of the branding opportunities you have been a part of it? it is crossing signals. they would expect me to be the guy on the way to being incarcerated.
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that is going back. if you have been exposed to a lifestyle enough, that is when you know dhue will lose. tavis: it does that perception that make you feel mocked as an artist? >> there is a significance in being able to create from a real space. because i acquired what they deemed a success over the last six years, i found more interest in writing the struggle on this particular project. it is almost a prequel to "get rich or die trying." the album actually leaked. it came out a month before it was scheduled to be released. it was manufactured for international plans. it went on itunes a lot faster
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than it could be ready for retail. dies only wanted to hear the aggressive content -- guys only wanted to hear the press of content and heard this. i was angry for the first 10 or 15 minutes before i had a chance to think about it. i thought, at least it leaked in its entirety. not just a piece here or a piece there that would change what my presentation was. interscope as a record company had a fire drill. they had to fix the situation. the reason why it was being shipped to seoul early this because they were anticipating it being a very -- so early
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because they were anticipating it being very successful. tavis: i am not going to ask what it is like to be shot. take a moment to juxtapose from where you have come. your mother had you when she was 15. your mother to selling drugs. she is dead when you are 8. at 12, you start selling drugs. at 15, you are the kingpin in your neighborhood. $150,000 a month. close? at 15, it is not about money. if you knew that your mother but selling drugs and you knew that your mother died when you were eight because she was caught up in the culture, why did you decide to do the same thing? >> there was nothing to make reference to that was part of that lifestyle. if my mother had me at 15.
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the only option is a welfare or the street. she took that route. because she chose that come up -- that, i make reference to every time i saw her. every time i saw her, it was something new. the only people i saw that had nice things for people from my mom's life. if they had cars and nice things. i am not even the gym and be responsible for my actions at 12. -- legitimately responsible for my actions at 12. i was lost in the shuffle with my grandparents. tavis: as an adult, how do you regard your mother's life and
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legacy? >> the things that you go through and make you who you are. i cannot regret by experiences. i know what my intentions were. mine were just wanting a better life. what happened was the things that i was seeing needed a legitimate option. it seems like the only option at 12. people did not understand that when i started hustling, i had to be aggressive enough to get by in that environment. i had to come back and string up and be my grandmother's baby. i was not allowed to curse in front of my grandmother. tavis: what did it say to you that at 15 you were smart enough to know mathematical percentage is, how to divvy stuff up, how to count cash and invest cash.
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you knew all of that at 15, but you were caught up in the drug culture. what does this say to you about what black boys are capable of if they are given the chance? >> it makes me feel like there is opportunity there. i was actually seeing those opportunities. without having everything that comes out of my mouth being something that you say, that guy is a role model. the circumstances that i come from. it gives me a bigger responsibility, not just to myself, but for other people to have an example. not living in a house with boast -- both of your parents. not having anything to initially. at this point, they cannot make
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me think that i cannot do something that i set my mind on. i have come so far. tavis: looking at your portfolio now, they took -- they can take me for a fool. >> what is interesting that -- was that i was my mom ' s motivation to go into the lifestyle. to provide for me. teen-age pregnancy was common back then. my son, often he comes into the picture, i realize that i cannot have the same repercussions. i only had to be responsible for myself and my own actions. then he came into the picture. i felt like if i did not take care of him, then nobody would. he inspired me to start writing
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music full time. in 1997, when i decided to do that, i was blessed. i ran into jam master j. he helped develop my song structure. he created a system that helped me and learn how to do concrete songwriting instead of just being a talented wrapper. tavis: the bible says, when you try to do good, evil is present. when you try to get out, what was the push back you got from that lifestyle? the pullback that would not let you get away? >> i thought i was ready in 1997. i cannot have any major record company to promote my project until 2003. for that time period i had to be running on my own energy.
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i had to convince myself that i am going to make it, regardless of how people felt at that time. it makes me feel like there is going to be points where people will mistake my confidence for arrogance. they do not understand the process i went through and how much i had to believe in myself to make these things happen. i feel like you can will yourself to particular things. if you believe yourself, you can help yourself learn. you can help yourself in different ways. you can actually discipline yourself to the point that you can become good enough. from 1997, when i started writing, it was full time. i had no choice. if i was going to stop hustling, and how was i going to continue the life style that i created for my son's mom and myself?
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>> i am curious as to where and how you develop the biggest acumen. when you do the writing and you start selling the records, you have this project and you own this and you have cologne and you have this -- how do you develop that kind of business? >> we do not see limits. if you come from a space where you are ambitious, i do not think that ambition is a learned behavior. i think it is part of a person of's natural character. if you will see me, -- person ' s natural character. you will always see me, i think i have to idea to make this work. tavis: i think that means that 50 has booked himself on the show again. >> i will always have a new goal
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is to set for myself and to accomplish. that makes me happy when it works. a lot of times, there is nothing around to support it. this is one of the best deals i have been associated with. there was nothing around to support that. i gained weight during the tour from "get rich or die trying " " i actually had might -- my drug muscles back on. those of lines were not there anymore. that was a substitute. tavis: it turned into a $100 million deal? >> i explored being a part of the company. tavis: robert green has been on
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the show and i am a fan of his work. tell me about this book. >> i got into the art of seduction. i said that i have got to meet this guy. he had extreme differences in material. he is not exactly what i thought he was. the guy in the "art of seduction that" had to be billy dee williams and the other had to be a napoleon. we had similar views on business and he did the research on all of these people. he knew so much about the historical figures. he was singing and conversation that made him so intriguing that i thought to talk to him and hang out with him.
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we were gone for a pretty long time. he got a chance to come around. he likes me. he likes to hang out with me. my source of power, and why i was the way i was was because i was running parallel to the worst possible scenario i have been in. i walked into the meeting and i already know i do not know everything. i am asking questions. sometimes people do not want to ask questions because they do not want to appear to be the person in the room that is nothing knowledgeable person. i could care less, as long as i meet with it. -- leave with it. tavis: i asked you what your cologne smelled like. you said, success. i get to keep this?
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>> you can keep that. you have got to tell somebody. tavis: i am court -- and going to order some more of this. >> a little spray. tavis: this is a 90-minute film. you produced and directed it. >> i had additional time to break the record. i created a synopsis of what the film would be about. this is the opposite of how traditional phones are created. a writer writes it and a director direct it. they create something to match the tone of what is going on in the film. this time, i created the music then went on to develop the characters and gave the imperfections and defects. it allows people a more vivid to the point to the
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activities on the actual record. if they needed more confirmation, they could just look at the newspaper. every day in the inner cities, these things are happening. you can capture it on the record -- they have the poster boards up and they saw me with a gun and started protesting. i was like wow. i remember jolie and pitt had guns. james bond poses like this. they had a problem with that. i had a baby in the front. i thought i was capturing the protector at that point. the message was like, and he really has the gun right now. they do not understand the difference between reality and
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art on some levels. the average person that is watching the film can identify it with the difference between the two. if not, they will be jumping off of the building like a bruce willis does all of the time. why do we not have more people jumping off of buildings? life-threatening situations and death itself is really entertaining for humans. humans are habit forming and we look forward to the future. if we have these great things that we do not want to think about, but it is entertaining to watch. tavis: i was trying to read this a couple of nights ago. thank you for writing that. i appreciate it. the new cd is out. the cd and the dvd. you could come back as well. >> i tried to make sure i can do that.
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tavis: you are welcome back any time. that is our show for the night. catch me on the weekends on public radio international. you can access our website at pbs.org. goodnight from l.a. as always, keep the faith. >> ♪ have a baby by me be a millionaire have a baby by me, baby, be a millionaire ♪ >> for more information on today ' show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. >> to join me for a conversation next time with this arena williams on joining her no. 1 world ranking. -- regaining her no. 1 world
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ranking. >> walmart is looking forward to do so many things like building stronger communities and relationships. with your help, the best is yet to come. >> nationwide insurance pro udly supports tavis smiley. working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment comes with it. >> nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television]
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